PENNSYLVANIA -- The burning of coal at power plants produces a byproduct known
as fly ash. Many times the waste isn't properly stored and that can pose
serious health concerns.
On December 22, 2008, the
Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant west of Knoxville suffered a
major fly ash spill. An earthen dike failed, releasing an estimated 5.4 million
cubic yards of fly ash into 300 acres surrounding the plant.
The spill resulted in the
evacuation of a nearby residential area. It also damaged a natural gas line and
disrupted power and transportation.In the aftermath, TVA ended up buying all
180 properties and 150 houses affected by the spill and recovery effort.
The land received a
big-time makeover, but what about the effects of the fly ash on the health of
people and the environment? According to the TVA, it's not a problem
"We look to
independent studies, and they have determined in thousands and thousands of
samples and in two studies that are public, that there is no harm to human
health as a result of the elements that are in coal ash," Anda Ray, TVA's
senior vice president of Engineering, Environmental, and Support Services, told
"But I understand
that people are worried," Ray added. "And perhaps there's other
issues, and they need to check with their physician."
Residents Demand Action
Tell that to worried residents living near fly
ash impoundments in Pennsylvania.Sonny Markish lives in La Belle. The view from
his yard is a massive dump site, complete with the rumble of large trucks
hauling the ash. He showed CBN News a substance around his property that he
says has been tested and proven to be fly ash.
Markish says he and his
wife have battled cancer, and he has asthma."I certainly don't believe that it is helping me,
especially like when I come out here, my eyes begin to water," Markish
said. "I can taste foul things, and I see dust that is coming from the
dump up there."
The primary concern for
residents of La Belle, Pennsylvania, is what's called "fugitive
dust." They say because the fly ash is not contained properly, the wind
blows it into their communities, coating their properties and affecting their
health. Markish's neighbors, Yma and Rudy Smith, told CBN News they are both on
"It ate the roof off
of my home, so if it did that, what is it doing to the insides of my
body?" Yma Smith questioned. "Breathing, I'm coughing; my eyes are
burned. I can't go outside and sit."Yma's husband, Rudy, believes fly ash
is at least partly to blame for the death of his friend, who was only 56 years
want this community to be cleaned up," Rudy Smith told CBN News. "I'm
tired of seeing my friends in this community die. My friend I used to work at
the coal mine with, Mike Kwasny, he died from cancer in the sinuses."
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